A short post, because I’m busy…
While searching (fruitlessly) for a picture of the brewer John Perkins at Shut Up At Barclay Perkins, I found a great post about another sort of animal laborer in the old London brewhouse: cats. Probably anyone who’s lived on a farm isn’t surprised, but this was news to me, even if it immediately made sense.
I’ve mentioned before how work-animals–specifically horses–were an important part of the brewhouse. But I hadn’t realized that cats, too were used by brewers. It makes sense, of course: rats like to eat grain, and cats like to hunt rats, so to protect their grain stores, it makes perfect sense to keep some cats around the place. However, this is particularly useful for me to know (because rats, cats, and alchemy combine with very strange effects in my novel).
Here’s the picture Pattison posted, accompanying a review by an American of a trip to the brewery:
The American visitor writes:
Rats are fond of malt, but to keep them off a staff of sixty large cats are constantly employed on the premises and all these cats are under the supervision of a big-headed or chief cat, with a long moustache and Angola blood… It is quite a sight to witness the anxious solicitude of this Chief Cat for the honour ofthe house of Barclay and Perkins, and for the discipline of his subordinate cats, the chief being a Thomas of the purest breed.
As Pattison suggests, the writing has the unmistakable feel of “paid promotional content” but it’s still a fun read. See for yourself.
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Apparently, cats are still employed in this fashion to this day… a least, in some places, like this distillery.